Lessons 14-18 in the Gospel of Luke
Luke Lesson 18
Scriptures for this lesson are taken from Luke 18.
In chapter 17, Jesus was up on the border between Galilee and Samaria. He has been moving south toward Jerusalem. Jesus was teaching His followers in the towns and villages as He journeyed south. At the beginning of Chapter 18, Jesus told His disciples a parable about prayer.
[Luke 18:1-6] Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
In Luke chapter 17:5-6 Jesus told His disciples that answered prayer depended on their faith. Here in this parable about the persistent woman going to the judge to get justice, Jesus taught the disciples that they needed to be persistent in asking God for what they needed. Just because prayers are not answered immediately does not mean that they won’t be. God works on His timetable not ours. Jesus said that if we continue to take our petitions to God trusting, believing that He will answer, then He will.
[Luke 18:9-14] 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
This parable was aimed directly at the Pharisees and Sadducees who believed that because they were descended from Abraham and they carefully kept the Old Covenant laws, they were righteous and sinless and had an automatic ticket into heaven. Like the Pharisee in this parable who in his prayer thanked God that he was not like sinners. But the tax collector bowed and cried out to God for mercy because he knew that he was a sinner. Jesus added another factor to having prayer answered—humility.
[Luke 18:15-17] 15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Jesus’ disciples were annoyed because people were taking Jesus’ time by bringing their babies and young children to Him to be blessed. But Jesus scolded His disciples. He loved the children because they were innocent, without sin. He tried to explain to His followers that unless a person humbles himself/herself and came to Jesus without pride, asking for forgiveness they would not be able to enter heaven.
[Luke18:18-30] 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
The rabbis taught that having wealth meant that a person was worthy and blessed by God. The Pharisees, Sadducees and rabbis who were mostly wealthy were considered ready for heaven. Jesus destroyed this teaching when He said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to get into heaven. The disciples were amazed. They asked Jesus if the supposedly righteous Pharisees and rabbis could not go to heaven, then who could be saved? Jesus’ answer in verse 27, “What is impossible with man is possible with God. The meaning is that man by his own efforts cannot receive eternal life in heaven. All men are sinners whether rich or poor, religious teachers or obvious sinners. Only God can save the lost by His love and grace.
In verses 29 and 30 Peter asked Jesus about their standing, would they be able to go to heaven. In order to understand this question, we need to look at the background of many of Jesus’ followers. Peter, Andres, James and John were all in a lucrative fishing business together. Matthew was a tax collector and likely financially well off. Joanna was the wife of King Herod’s steward. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were a wealthy family. So I am sure that these disciples who were well off were concerned when Jesus said that it was almost impossible for a rich man to go to heaven. Jesus then assured them that someone who would leave their homes and families to work for the Kingdom of God would have blessings in this world and in heaven. So our relationship with God and how we live our lives is more important than whether we are rich or poor.
[Luke 18:31-34] 31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
As His ministry time was coming to an end, Jesus took the 12 Apostles aside and told them clearly that they were going to Jerusalem for Passover and that the Old Covenant prophecies about the Son of Man or the Messiah would come about. In other words, He would be arrested, mocked, insulted, flogged and killed by the Gentiles, meaning Rome. In three days He would rise from the dead. The Apostles did not comprehend what Jesus was telling them. Verse 34 tells us that the meaning was hidden from them and they did not understand. Luke tells us that they were near Jericho which was just north and east of Jerusalem a few miles so these things would come about soon.
[Luke 18:35-43] 35 As Jesus approached Jericho; a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
As Jesus and His party were going on the road near Jericho, a blind man heard the crowd and asked what was going on. When he was told that Jesus was on the road, he called out to Jesus. When Jesus heard him and what he wanted, the man was healed. Jesus told him that his faith had healed him. The people traveling with the blind man and others on the road were amazed and praised God for this miracle.
Lessons to learn from Luke Chapter 18:
1. The Christian should pray continually, having faith with a humble heart.
2. The sinner must come to Jesus sincerely, humbly asking for forgiveness.
3. It is impossible to earn your way into heaven. Eternal salvation comes only through the love and grace of God.
4. Divine healing is possible if we have enough faith.
Luke Lesson 17
Scriptures for this lesson are taken from Luke 17, Matthew 24, Acts 1, 1Thessalonians 4, Revelation 19.
Jesus is still traveling south from Galilee to Jerusalem. In verse 11 we are told that at this time He was at the border between Galilee and Samaria which you can see on this map. In the previous chapters Jesus had been dining in the home of a prominent Pharisee where He taught what it would be like to be His disciple. In Chapter 17 He was in a different place but still moving toward Jerusalem. Remember, these events are not necessarily in chronological order.
This chapter begins with Jesus teaching about sin.
[Luke 17:1-4] Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
Here, stumble, means to sin. Jesus said that there is no way to get through life without being tempted to sin. Temptation will come, but woe to the person who causes another to sin. “Woe” is a word that means something very bad will happen. A millstone was a large round stone that was used for grinding grain. In this picture are several millstones that have been found from the time of Christ in the area around Jordan.
It would be better to have one of these very heavy stones around your neck than to suffer the consequences for causing another person to sin. Here Jesus specifies “little ones”. This can be interpreted as a child or a child in Christ, someone who is a new or weak Christian. So, tempter beware! Then Jesus went on to say that if your brother or sister wrongs you in some way then you can rebuke them. For example, your neighbor runs into your car and does not tell you. Then you should confront him about it. But if he asks for forgiveness, then you must forgive him. Then he runs into your car every day for a week but each time he asks you to forgive him, so you must forgive him.
Luke 17:5-6] 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
The apostles, the twelve men chosen by Jesus to spread the gospel, have asked if Jesus would give them more faith. His answer basically said that if they had just a tiny little bit of faith, they could do miraculous things. The key in having this kind of faith is believing that God will answer. If we don’t really believe God will answer, then He won’t. And we really have no faith!
[Luke 17:7-10] 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
I believe that Jesus was explaining what their duty as Apostles and leaders would be. They would be servants of the Lord, doing His work. When they had done all they were asked to do in a day, then they should realize that there would be no praise of man for them. They had done what the Lord asked them to do. Any praise and recognition will come in the next life and humility is the groundwork for faith.
[Luke 17:11-19] 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
This story is about Jews who were Lepers. Leprosy is a terrible flesh destroying disease that was prevalent in Jesus’ time. When traveling on the roads, lepers were required to call out to warn people that they were lepers and to stay a distance away. They were shunned and lived in leper colonies. Today leprosy can be cured with antibiotics but in that time there was no cure. This is a story and not a parable. As Jesus traveled the road ten lepers traveling together apparently knew who Jesus was and that He could heal people. Keeping their distance, they called out to Him to have pity and heal them. Jesus answered telling them to go to the temple and show themselves to the priest. Those who were sick with any ailment had to go to the priest to prove that they were healed and then they would go through a cleansing ritual so that they could again worship in the temple. In this cleansing process the priest would take two birds. One bird would be killed representing the leper who had been outcast as dead to the fellowship, not allowed to worship in the temple. The other bird would be allowed to fly away, representing the leper coming back to life and able to live among the people again. So there were apparently nine Jews and one Samaritan among the lepers. They all went to the priest but only the Samaritan came back to thank Jesus for healing him. The Jews hated Samaritans because they were Jews mixed with other races. The Jews considered them unclean. Jesus recognized the Samaritan as being more gracious and thankful than the Jews. God loves all men regardless of race.
[Luke 17:20-37] 20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”  ? 37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Notice that there is no verse 36. Some manuscripts have wording like that in Matthew 24:40. “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”
The Jews were looking for the Messiah to come and bring with Him the Kingdom of God. But they expected an earthly kingdom like in the time of David, the Romans would be destroyed and Israel would be a powerful earthly kingdom once again. His disciples are asking Jesus when this kingdom would come. Jesus tried to explain that the Kingdom of God was not something that could be seen, it was a spiritual kingdom that dwelled in the hearts of men. Jesus said that there would be times ahead when they would long to see Him and others would come along and claim to be the Messiah, but not to follow them. Jesus said that He would come back but at a totally unexpected time, like the lightening in the sky, you never know when it will strike. In the days of Noah, the people were going about their business not believing that a huge flood was coming. When the rains came and there was no place for safety they were destroyed. Jesus then reminded them of Sodom and Gomorrah. As soon as Lot and his family were gone, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. The unexpecting people were taken totally by surprise when God destroyed them and their cities.
And so it will be when Jesus comes back. People will be going about their daily business not suspecting anything and the all of a sudden Jesus will appear in the clouds just as when He ascended.
[Acts 1:9-11] 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
I believe that Jesus will come back and gather the New Covenant church and take them to heaven either before the tribulation begins or after the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation. This first coming back or the Rapture is described in 1Thessalonians chapter 4.
[1Thessalonians 4:13-18] 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This will be a time when no one is expecting Jesus to come. Life will be going on in a normal way and suddenly Jesus will appear in the clouds and gather the Christians home. But in the last part of Luke 17:37 where Jesus described dead bodies and vultures coming to feast on the dead is most likely describing the time when Jesus comes back to make war on the gentile nations.
37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
This is the passage that describes Jesus’ Second Coming in Revelation 19:11-18: 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.
Jesus will come at this time do battle with the gentile nations and set up His 1000 year reign on the earth. There will be more end time prophecies in Luke as Jesus’ earthly ministry comes to an end and He prepares for the crucifixion.
Lessons we can learn from Luke 17:
1. We need to live our lives in such a way that we never influence someone else to sin..
2. Faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit. But the key is to exercise our faith by trusting God and believing that He will answer.
3. We serve the Lord out of our love for Him, not for the praise of men.
4. Jesus will come again when we least expect Him. We must always be ready.
Luke Lesson 16
Scripture for this lesson are taken from Luke 16.
Jesus may have still been at the dinner in the home of the prominent Pharisee or moving on south toward Jerusalem. Whichever, He still had a large crowd present including scribes and Pharisees and probably some Sadducees. He continues to teach the ways of God by using stories about everyday life called, parables.
The first two parables in chapter 16 deal with the love of wealth and money. Jesus was still dealing with the people’s belief that if an individual was rich and happy, he would enjoy God’s special blessings and favor. If he was poor and burdened he was experiencing God’s judgment. There was a real confusion between spiritual values and material values. The Pharisees, who should have been spiritual minded, pursued wealth because prosperity made them look good and righteous in the eyes of the people. They would declare their money and property dedicated to God (Corbon) so that they could invest it and avoid giving to the poor and even caring for their own parents.
[Luke 16:1-15] 1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
This parable takes careful reading. The rich man in the parable had a very poor manager. The manager represented the scribes and Pharisees who focused on gaining wealth at the cost of the poor and needy. The manager was doing a poor job of managing the rich man’s property so the rich man told the manager to give an account or pay him the money that was owed before he was fired from his job. So the manager went to all the people who owed the rich man money or olive or grain to pay up but at a lessor amount. If they owed 900 barrels of olive oil the manager said to pay half and he would consider the debt paid, and so on. By doing this the crooked manager was making friends hoping they would help him when he lost his job. Jesus told them that it was important to be honest in the dealings with men whether they had responsibility over much or over little. It was important and right to always be honest in handling worldly wealth. Those who are dishonest are guilty of loving money more than God. “The love of money is the root of all evil” as the saying goes. In verse 13, Jesus said, “You cannot love both God and money.” It says that the scribes and Pharisees sneered at Jesus. I can see Him looking right at them when He said, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
We will be held responsible to God for the wealth He gives us today. It is only on loan to us for our use in daily living and taking care of our families. But we need also to use that wealth to minister to others and to further the spreading of the gospel.
[Luke 16:16-18] 16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The preaching of the Old Covenant prophets focused on keeping the Laws of Moses. John the Baptist also preached repentance according to the Old Covenant Law because John was the last of the Old Covenant prophets. Now Jesus and His disciples are preaching that the Kingdom of God has come. The strict Jewish keepers of the Law think that they are already part of the Kingdom of God because of their keeping of the Law. Jesus said no part of the actual Law of God would be discarded, but the religious leaders did their interpretations of the Law to cover the parts they did not want to keep. One of those parts was divorcing their wives. The Law of Moses was strict about when divorce was accepted and when not. In their interpretations, it was okay for a man to divorce his wife if she burned his dinner. When Jesus quoted the Law of Moses about divorce, these men would have known that He was aiming those words straight at them.
[Luke 16:19-31] 19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have
pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘they have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
This story is a complicated one. Some biblical scholars say that this is not a parable but a true story that Jesus is relating. Their reasoning is that in no other parable does Jesus give a name to a figure in the story. I believe that is true to a point. Another factor is that there were Jewish religious leaders in the crowd listening to Jesus. Among the leaders were two religious sects. One sect was the Pharisees who were strict keepers of the Law and who believed in the resurrection of the dead. The other sect was the Sadducees who kept the Law but did not believe in a resurrection of the dead. All the Jews at that time believed that the rich were blessed by God and the poor and sick were cursed because of some sin. This story poked all kinds of holes in that belief.
However, I believe that this story was aimed mostly at the Sadducees who did not believe in a resurrection. The High Priest was the head of the Sanhedrin and was the ruling body of the Jews. It had 72 members plus the High Priest. A man called Annas was High Priest and he had 5 sons who had also served as High Priest. All of this family were Sadducees. A man called, Caiaphas, was High Priest during the time of Jesus’ ministry and he was the son-in-law of Annas. Annas and his family were very rich. They owned booths at the temple were the money was changed to temple money and the animals and birds were sold for the sacrifices. They charged high prices for these animals and cheated the people, getting rich at their expense. I think the rich man in this story was Annas who was High Priest and the real power over that office. It says that the rich man was clothed in purple robes and fine linen. The rich man’s 5 brothers could represent Anna’s 5 sons who had been High Priests. Jesus had a very close friend named Lazarus who would die soon and after he was dead 4 days, Jesus would bring him back to life. The High Priest’s family are the ones who would bring about Jesus’ death on the cross. And they would also try to kill Lazarus because his resurrection for the dead caused many to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. So I think this story/parable was aimed at that the Jewish religious leaders concerning resurrection of the dead and the fact that these people were trying to find something to use against Jesus to have Him arrested and killed to get Him out of the way. They would be successful in a short time after this. We will cover all that in depth soon.
Lessons for us from Luke Chapter 16:
1. We are to love God first and He will provide for our needs.
2. We should deal with people fairly and honestly in all situations.
3. We should use of the wealth that God gives us to help those in need.
4. Eternal life in heaven with God and Jesus Christ awaits those who believe in Jesus as their Savior.
Luke Lesson 15
Scripture for this lesson are taken from Luke 15.
In chapter 14, Jesus was teaching at a dinner given by a prominent Pharisee. His teachings focused on the difficulties of being His disciple. He told them that there were no acceptable excuses for not accepting Him as the Messiah. Being His disciple would require a life of service to others rather than one of power and wealth and praise of men. Being His disciple would require putting Him first above everything, even their own families.
[Luke 15:1-2] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
In chapter 15, Jesus is still traveling south in Perea, teaching the crowds that were following Him. There were scribes and Pharisees following along with the crowds hoping to find something to use against Jesus. They were criticizing Him because He associated and ate with people they considered ceremonially unclean.
[Luke 15:3-7] 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
This parable is called “The Parable of the Lost Sheep.” Jesus used situations that were common in their society to tell stories with a message. The shepherd herding his sheep was common for them to see in their time. The shepherd in the story represented God/Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees thought they were sinless, and they were represented by the ninety and nine. The one lost sheep represented the people they considered unclean. In our society today, the ninety and nine would represent those people who think that they do not need God. In verse 7, Jesus gave us a picture of the rejoicing that occurs in heaven when a lost soul comes to accept Jesus as his/her savior. I cannot ever remember a pastor saying to the church congregation, “There is great rejoicing going on in heaven right now because this soul has been saved!” It is wonderful to know that God loves every person so much, we are all important to Him and He wants us to live eternally with Him.
[Luke 15:8-10] 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Did you ever lose something valuable and you looked everywhere to find it? A silver coin was very valuable in that day. Again Jesus used a common activity to tell his message story. The woman had 10 silver coins and she lost one. She lit her oil lamp and swept the floor with her broom to try to locate the lost coin. Like the parable of the lost sheep, the nine silver coins represented the scribes and Pharisees and the one lost coin represented the sinners and tax collectors. The woman represented God/Jesus. When the lost coin was found there was once again great rejoicing in heaven by God and the angels and other heavenly beings.
[Luke 15:11-32] 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’
20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
This parable is very similar to the first two. When the younger son left home he was prideful, arrogant and eager to experience the ways of the world. After he had been out in the world and squandered all his money, was homeless and hungry he realized what he had lost and how much better it was in his father’s home. He was ready to go home and work as a servant for his father in order to have food and shelter. At this point he was humble and repentant. The older son, however, resented that fact that his father was willing to take the younger back as a son. . In the story, the father represented God/Jesus. The older son represented the self-righteous Pharisees and the younger son represented the sinners, the lost.
Let’s look at the items in Jesus’ parables that were lost. The first one was a sheep, an animal. The second was a coin, money. The third one was a human being, a man. In each story the value and importance of the lost item accelerated. The first two were worldly things, but the man was a spiritual being and much more valuable to God.
The self-righteous Jews had difficulty believing that God could love sinful people. He was the God who punished sinners. The idea that God would show love and compassion to people who did not keep the “Law” was not acceptable to them. God was a just God who measured out punishment justly to sinners. Poverty, poor health, tragedy were a sign of sin in one’s life. Jesus’ message was strange to their beliefs. Jesus taught about a loving and forgiving God who rejoiced when a sinner repented. He was an active God who searched for the lost and all heaven rejoiced when the lost was found.
Jesus was telling the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees that God loves all men, even the sinners and tax collectors and he wanted them to have eternal salvation. The attitude of the older son in the story showed how unloving and self-righteous the scribes and Pharisees were. I am sure that they understood what Jesus was telling them, but it did not change their minds.
Lessons for us from Luke Chapter 15:
1. Every person has value and is precious to the Lord.
2. We as Christians should have love for sinners, all who are lost.
3. We should care enough to seek out to reach the lost.
4. We should not have a prideful attitude toward the lost because we too are sinners.
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Luke Lesson 14
Scriptures for this lesson are taken from: Luke 14, Isaiah 25:6.
In Lesson 13 Jesus and His disciples were on the east side of the Jordan River traveling south toward Jerusalem in the area of Machaerus. King Herod had sent Jesus a threatening message trying to get Him to move out of Herod’s territory. As we move into Luke chapter 14, Jesus has been invited to dine in the home of a prominent Pharisee.
[Luke 14:1-6] One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. 5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.
Jesus had just previously healed a woman on the Sabbath and now He is in the home of a highly esteemed Pharisee, teacher of the law. The other guests were watching Him carefully to see if he would heal someone again. Next to Jesus they had seated a man who had the dropsy. Most likely the man was seated next to Jesus on purpose to see if Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath which they considered a sin. They didn’t fool Jesus at all. Knowing what they were doing; Jesus asked them if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. No one gave Him an answer, so He took hold of the ailing man and healed him and told him to go away. He obviously would not have been a regular guest at one of their feasts. Jesus then turned to His host and other guests and asked them if they would not pull out their son or an ox that had fallen in a well on the Sabbath. Would that not be work? They said nothing.
[Luke 14:7-11] 7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus noticed how the guests had chosen places of honor at the table when they sat or reclined for dinner. Those who sat closest to the host were in the most honored positions. Then He began to tell them a parable. By this parable Jesus tried to give them a lesson in humility. It was much better to take a lessor seat and have the host move you up than to take an honored seat than to have the host move you down. Pride has no place in heaven. Jesus said on several occasions that the humble would receive final exaltation. (Luke 18:14, Matthew 23:12).
[Luke 14:12-14] 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Certainly at the Pharisee’s home where Jesus was dining, seated around the table were other Scribes and Pharisees as well as prominent Jews in the community. By inviting these people, the host hoped to receive invitations to the homes of his prominent guests, thus increasing his social status. But Jesus said it was better to invite the poor and the blind and lame people, those who were unable to work to buy food or provide for their families. It was better to feed the needy and be blessed by God than to receive the praise of men. Heavenly blessings are eternal and man’s praise is brief.
[Luke 14:15-24] 15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
The Scribes and Pharisee present at this banquet were all students and teachers of the Old Covenant scriptures. One of those present commented to Jesus about what a wonderful blessing it would be to eat at the great feast in the kingdom of God. This was probably a response to Jesus telling them in verses 12-14 that there were greater blessings for feeding the poor and needy rather than the rich and powerful. So this Pharisee was saying that they, the righteous sons of Abraham would be blessed at the great feast in the Kingdom of God. This feast is told by Isaiah in chapter 25:6, “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.”
Jesus then told them a story (parable) about a man who prepared a great feast and invited his guests to come and dine with him. But his guests made all kinds of excuses why they could not attend. The master of the house was angry and sent his servant to go out into the streets and invite the poor, the homeless, blind and lame people to come. When there were still not enough guests to eat the feast, they went up and down the roads inviting anyone who would to come to this feast.
This story is Jesus’ response to the man’s statement. The man holding the feast represented God and the guests that were originally invited were His chosen people, Israel. But when God sent His Son, Jesus, to establish His kingdom on earth, then Israel rejected Him. They made all kinds of excuses to say that He was not the Son of God. When the invited guests in the story, meaning the Jews, rejected Christ, then the gentiles who represented all other peoples were invited to come. If those present understood what Jesus was saying about the invited guests, then they would have understood that, according to Jesus, they would not be attending the great feast in Heaven prepared by God Himself. Jesus knew that many Jews and gentiles would reject His Kingdom preferring the praise of men and the temporary riches of this world.
[Luke 14:25-27] 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
The great crowds of people following after Jesus had little conception of the meaning of the Kingdom of God that Jesus was teaching. They expected the Messiah to raise an army and defeat the Romans and reestablish the kingdom of Israel as in the time of David. To be a disciple of Jesus meant living a life of dedication and commitment. Jesus did not mean that His disciples should really hate their families, but if following Him required making a choice, then Jesus must come first.
[Luke 14:28-34] 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Here we have Jesus telling three parables about the cost of discipleship. The first two parables were to encourage the people to think about the cost of being a follower of Jesus before they made a commitment. Jesus’ disciples would be leaving their families for long periods of time; they would be giving up income from their jobs and committing their lives to spreading the gospel. It would be much better to consider all the costs first. It would be better not to commit than to commit and then quit. It all sounds very severe where no one would want to be a disciple. But basically it means that putting Christ first is what is required. Jesus said that when we put Him first all the other things will be given to us. That does not mean expensive automobiles and fancy homes, but rather rich blessings and necessary needs.
In verses 34 and 35 Jesus refers to His followers as salt. A little bit of salt goes a long way for flavoring and preserving food. One faithful Christian can reach many lost people in their lifetime by their witness through words and lifestyle. But a Christian who is unfaithful is worthless as a witness for the Lord.
Lessons for us from Luke 14:
1. Making excuses for not accepting Christ as Savior or for not following His will are unacceptable to Him.
2. The Lord loves a humble spirit.
3. It is our responsibility as Christians to help those in need.
4. As a disciple of Christ, we should always put Him first.